Size and speed in abundance across this year’s class
The 2018 season is rich in quarterbacks across FCS college football. It's only natural the wide receiver class is highly talented as well.
Last year's top three in the FCS in receiving yards - Sam Houston State's Nathan Stewart, UC Davis' Keelan Doss and New Hampshire's Neil O'Connor - are back and part of 12 returning 1,000-yard receivers set to chase the mark again.
Here is a countdown of the 10 best wide receivers in the FCS:
10. (Tie) Elijah Bell, North Carolina A&T, Jr., 6-1, 221
He's a difference-maker who consistently breaks tackles to reach the second level of a defense. He followed up 2016 MEAC rookie of the year honors with an even bigger sophomore campaign, catching 64 passes for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns.
10. (Tie) Dejon Brissett, Richmond, Sr., 6-2, 190
An ability to win 50-50 balls led to Brissett breaking out as an All-CAA wide receiver in 2017. After opening with a 172-yard outing against Sam Houston State, Brissett grabbed 63 receptions for 896 yards and seven touchdowns on the season while combining with big-play teammate Cortrelle Simpson to headline the fourth-ranked passing attack (341.0 ypg) in the FCS.
9. Reggie White Jr., Monmouth, R-Sr., 6-3, 210
The Big South's top wideout has used his good size and athleticism to post three straight productive seasons, catching 178 passes for 2,240 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career. His father was a nose tackle out of North Carolina A&T who played in Super Bowl XXIX with the San Diego Chargers.
8. Kelvin McKnight, Samford, Sr., 5-9, 188
Opponents know McKnight is Samford's go-to target, but they still can't stop him. He has 213 career receptions, making him the active leader in FCS. It includes a dominating junior season with 85 receptions for 1,156 yards and 12 touchdowns.
7. Kamron Lewis, Saint Francis, Sr., 6-4, 195
Most receivers would love to have Lewis' All-Northeast Conference statistics as a junior - 65 receptions for 909 yards and six touchdowns. But he seeks to get back to his sophomore campaign, when he averaged nearly 20 yards a catch with 75 receptions and 1,478 receiving yards, earning NEC offensive player of the year.
6. Jesper Horsted, Princeton, Sr., 6-4, 215
Horsted's tantalizing size commands attention the way he grabs passes. As a junior, he set Princeton single-season records for receptions (92) and touchdown receptions (14), and had its No. 2 mark in receiving yards (1,226). He caught two touchdowns in six different games.
5. Davion Davis, Sam Houston State, Sr., 5-11, 180
Sam Houston utilized Davis in a variety of ways in 2017 and he became the Southland Conference offensive player of the year. The speedster caught 78 passes for 1,206 yards and 17 touchdowns. He dominated as a punt returner and finished with 21 overall TDs, ranking second in the FCS.
4. Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona, R-Sr., 6-4, 220
Butler seeks a full recovery from a shoulder injury because he has NFL size and ability. He leaps high over defenders to catch passes as evidenced by 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2015 and '16. He's the only Northern Arizona player in history to go over the century mark twice.
3. Neil O'Connor, New Hampshire, R-Sr., 5-11, 190
O'Connor's two touchdown receptions against Georgia Southern helped New Hampshire earn an FBS win last year. He went on to catch 97 passes for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns in a banner campaign. He has an instinctive style to get free from defenders.
2. Nathan Stewart, Sam Houston State, Jr., 5-11, 190
To find Stewart, look downfield. He's the only Sam Houston player with two 1,000-yard seasons, and he has two seasons remaining. While winning Southland freshman of the year honors in 2016, he caught 52 passes for 1,004 yards (19.3 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Last season, he hauled in 72 receptions for an FCS-high 1,648 yards (22.9 ypc) and 14 touchdowns.
1. Keelan Doss, UC Davis, WR, R-Sr., 6-3, 210
Doss is one of the top FCS prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft. He contemplated entering this year's draft before announcing his return to UC Davis. He set schools records with 115 receptions and 1,499 receiving yards, turning seven into touchdowns. He goes and attacks the ball with his speed and size in one-on-one matchups.
More Wide Receivers to Watch
Stephen Carlson, Princeton, Sr.
Juston Christian, Marist, Sr.
Nehari Crawford, Duquesne, Sr.
Mitch Gueller, Idaho State, Jr.
Damion Jeanpiere, Nicholls, Sr.
Andre Lindsey, Sacramento State, Sr.
Cortrelle Simpson, Richmond, Jr.
Riley Stapleton, James Madison, R-Jr.
Justin Sumpter, Kennesaw State, Sr.
Josh Wainwright, Columbia, Jr.
-- Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
(Photo courtesy of UC Davis)